“It was a torturous journey for me”, Steven exclaimed. “The monotonous view and the tortuous road made me feel nauseated. I’m never travelling from Virginia to Maryland by road again.”

The words tortuous and torturous are derived from a common Latin root “torquere” that translates to twist something. They are both adjectives, but have different pronunciations and meanings. So verbally nobody can mistake them for one another. But since only an “r” sets them apart, many ignorant writers struggle to use them in the right context. Most of the times, tortuous is used to describe a path that is zigzagging or something that is complex in nature. Whereas, torturous is used to describe something that causes stress, or deliberate torture.

Both of these adjectives are so close that sometimes swapping them would not harm a sentence. Like you might say, the lecture is tortuous; which implies that the lecture is too long and complicated. On the other hand, you could also say, the lecture is torturous; which suggests that the lecture is so painfully boring that no one could tolerate it.

Tortuous vs torturous – definitions and meanings

Definition of tortuous

The word tortuous is an adjective which denotes something that has a lot of bends and spins like a zigzagging pathway. But that’s not all. It can also describe something indirect or twisted and fraudulent, like someone’s personality, mindset, dialogue etc. Its correct pronunciation is ‘tor-choo-us.’

Example sentences of tortuous

  1. The adventurous mountain climbers chose a tortuous route to the cliff, so that they could have even more thrill on their way.

The rock climbers in this sentence are an enthusiastic bunch who wanted to experience extra adventure so they chose a winding path to the cliff instead of a short-cut.

  1. The hero leapt through the tortuous maze to protect the queen.

This sentence talks about a hero who crossed a very complicated maze so that he could protect his beloved queen.

  1. Lord Voldemort’s tortuous logic disgusted Harry Potter and his friends. He divided parts of his soul and infused it into seven things called horcruxes to become immortal.

Tortuous in this sentence means twisted. The sentence talks about the villainous and twisted mindset of Lord Voldemort in the series Harry Potter. He did something inconceivable – he divided his soul into horcruxes so that he couldn’t die even if he was fatally injured.

Definition of torturous

The word torturous is an adjective that means painful. When something is torturous – it is inflicting pain. The correct pronunciation is “tor-cher-us.’ Torturous is a negative word but sometimes it can be used in an exaggeration. When something is torturous in this sense then it isn’t causing suffering literally. Instead, it is annoying.

Example sentences of torturous

  1. According to Dan Brown, the agency often employs torturous methods to get convicts to confess their crimes. One of these is the total liquid ventilation (TLV) method. This involves complete drowning of the criminal in a liquid that is ventilated by perfluorocarbons so the person gets oxygen while submerged.

This sentence is judgmental and contains information from the book ‘The Lost Symbol’ by Dan Brown. CIA officers often utilize harsh methods on criminals to make them confess their crime which isn’t right if the criminal ends up innocent. In the total liquid ventilation (TLV) method, the criminal is drowned for hours in water and he is made to think he is dead. But in reality, after a couple of hours he is brought out of the water and in a distraught state of mind he confesses his crimes.

  1. People who have cancer face a torturous battle with their disease while they’re undergoing chemotherapy.

Like this sentence suggests, people who are undergoing chemotherapy are facing a painful battle because they know that they will die soon and lose their hair and experience physical fatigue etc.

  1. “I cannot tolerate a single second of this torturous movie; it is so boring that I should have taken my classes instead”, Jamie shouted as he stood up.

This sentence is quite self-explanatory. The communicator is exclaiming that the movie is so boring that he should have taken his classes instead. Here, torturous didn’t cause pain, but caused an annoyance instead.

So far, we hope that the differences have been clarified. As an extra helping aid, remember that torturous is always judgmental or negative. When someone describes something as torturous then there is no positive aspect involved. The thing in question is horrible, whether it is being used literally or in an exaggeration. For example, a torturous lecture and a torturous kidnapping, both are bad. On the other hand, something that is tortuous might be twisted, complicated or curvy but it doesn’t mean it is bad. So the word is descriptive and not judgmental unless you use it in a negative context deliberately.